All-American Teams In Design And Manufacturing
May 16, 2013

All-American Teams In Design And Manufacturing

Recently on National Public Radio (NPR), All Tech Considered reported on a cool online website that is working to connect American designers and American manufacturers. So, here’s the scoop:

A small businessman and designer by the name of Matthew Burnett was making designer wristwatches (fancy, in the word of NPR) by outsourcing the work to foreign companies. However, his experience was nightmarish. Most of all, he had to deal with language barriers and time zone differences that really hindered his life and business. So, when he decided that he wanted to start a clothing line, he wanted “Made in the USA” to avoid those and other issues.

He had to make manufacturing connections, though, so he went to a local trade show to look through a manufacturer print catalog where companies had “about a 2-inch-by-2-inch square to describe your specialty — and that’s ridiculous,” in Burnett’s words. I can imagine that a print catalog was cumbersome in and of itself let alone with such brevity.

So, what did Matthew Burnett do? He and his business partners created Maker’s Row, a website whose “mission is to make the manufacturing process simple to understand and easy to access,” particularly for designers interested in “Made in the USA” manufacturing. redOrbit first introduced this website back in November 2012.

As a combo Yellow Pages and, the website does the following according the the NPR article: “American manufacturers can put up a listing and even a video introduction. So let’s say you want to find someone who prints T-shirts. You might turn to Neil Breslau, one of the owners and president of First2Print, which is featured on the website. Or if you’re a belt designer, you might check out Universal Elliot Corp., a family-run business in New York City.”

redOrbit explained that one of the most unique features is the categorization system, which breaks down the development of how certain goods get manufactured. This serves as both a step-by-step guide and specialty filter feature. Plus, Maker’s Row uses videos to allow users a view of what happens in American manufacturing as well as to show tours of factories and meet people behind the products.

With ethical concerns about overseas manufacturing (from child labor to overworking and underpaying to all other issues), a website that promotes American manufacturing with American regulations and laws could be quite the hit. Of course, designers and companies will have to consider the cost and process of using all American, but that seems like it is well worth being able to sleep because you know your products are being manufactured by people who receive regular breaks, decent pay and, likely, a safe working facility.

This is yet another instance of how technology and business are coming together and benefitting the world. Websites like this really add something helpful and unique to the world wide web. The purpose is to connect American designers with American manufacturers for an all-American team. Sounds like something we could all get behind, right?

I love that the internet and technology have inspired people like Matthew Burnett and his business partners. Websites like this show creativity and problem solving. Burnett saw a need to revise a system and found a way to make it easier and better. That is awesome.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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